Recently a certain section of the Christian online sphere exploded with a post about Rob Bell’s new book, Love Wins. A fairly fierce set of ‘discussions’ and name calling followed. Why? Because the book which is yet to be published might suggest that universalism is a possibility.
This in a small sense reminds me of the reaction to the Satanic Verses by Salman Rushdie.
Author writes a book. It upsets a belief of a section of a wider group. The majority of the section wouldn’t have read the book. This section then pours vitriol and anger over the book on behalf of the wider group. Though the wider group are actually not that bothered they get drawn in and feel that this is a persecution against them. The leaders of the section then issue fatwas and the offending author is villified and possibly killed.
This is what Rob Bell is being put under. The majority haven’t read the book. It’s not published. Yet the sheer amount of anger and incendiary remarks are frankly depressing. The fatwa has already come from the Ayatollah of the neo-reformed, John Piper. He bizzarely tweeted ‘Farewell Rob Bell.’ This essentially is a death sentence. In many ways this communicates that Rob Bell is dead to John Piper. As with most fatwas there is no retraction or apology or tempering of language.
I expect a book burning session at some point. If Rob Bell doesn’t believe in hell, let’s chuck all his books in our self made hell, ey?
It is more and more evident that fundamentalisms wherever they are, have similar features whether they are Atheist, Hindu, Christian, Buddhist or Muslim. So I think at this point the greatest feature of British culture should be exercised.
Let’s all sit down and have a cup of tea.
And ask ourselves an uncomfortable question.
What is my fundamentalism?